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Caol Ila, 18-year-old, Islay, Single Malt Scotch Whisky (43%)
Scores and Reviews
Caol Ila (Gaelic for 'the Sound of Islay') was built in 1846 by Hector Henderson, a Glasgow businessman with a keen interest in distilling. The distillery is hidden in a quiet cove near Port Askaig, overlooking the Sound of Islay. The water source for Caol Ila is the peaty Loch Nam Ban about a mile away from which the water flows through fields, arriving at a waterfall near the distillery. The six stills are large and lentern shaped. Caol Ila was built in 1846, reconstructed in 1879 and rather brusquely modernised in the 1970s.
Caol Ila is considered to be one of the lighter of the Islays. Medium-bodied with a rounded flavour. Pale in colour with a greenish tinge. This malt has a peaty nose, with distinct floral notes. It is described as tasting slighty of seaweed/iodine, lightly medicinal, smoky, salty, sweet with a dry peppery finish.
The Clynelish distillery in Brora is an exact replica of Caol Ila. Most of the production is used in blends (90%) such as Bell's, White Horse, Johnnie Walker and Black Bottle. The distillery is the greatest of Islay, and produces over 3.000.000 litres a year.
The whisky region of Islay (pronounced eye-lay) is arguably the most important 200 or so square miles in the whisky world. On the face of it Islay just another island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies in Argyll just to the west of Jura and around 25 miles north of the Irish coast, which can be seen on a clear day.
The island's fame as far as whisky goes is due to the 8 distilleries currently in production and the vast tracts of peat that cover most of the island's surface. The whisky distilleries are: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman (this is the newest distillery on the island which started producing spirit in 2005), Lagavulinand Laphroaig.
The 8 distilleries with whisky for sale can be divided up, depending on the amount of peat used. The `big 3' are Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig who all produce powerful smoke laden whiskies. The new malt produced by Kilchoman is also very powerful indeed.
Occupying the middle ground are Bowmore and Caol Ila. The whiskies produced at Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain are in peat terms at least, the lightest.
There were more distilleries in the past: Port Ellen closed in 1983 while the Lochindaal at Port Charlotte closed in1929. The buildings at Port Ellen are however still in use, it is here that malted barley for the island's distilleries is produced.